Sitting in the synagogue next to the collection box, Jesus watched as the people brought their offerings. The wealthy and the influential put their money in with great ceremony. Their many large coins made a lot of noise as they were dropped into the box. The big shots wanted to impress everyone with their generosity. But Jesus wasn’t impressed.
That same day an old widow woman came into the synagogue. Quietly she dropped her two mites into the collection box. The wealthy and influential looked at her giving with great disdain. They considered her and her offering to be insignificant. But Jesus was excited about her giving. He was impressed with her generosity.
Now, the wealthy and the influential people are impressive to the world. They will have buildings named after them, they will sit on the board of directors and worldly people will call them great. But they do not impress Jesus, and He does not call them great. He knows they give from their overflow. He also knows their large coins are just a small part of their livelihood and will never be missed.
The old woman means nothing to most people. No buildings will have her name on them and no one will ask her opinion about anything. But Jesus is impressed with her giving and He is excited about her greatness. He knows that she is giving all she has and while most people see it as little, Jesus sees it as much. He knows that her offering is her life.
We must understand this, Jesus does not care about the haul of the offering plate. He only cares about the heart of the giver. One day we will all stand before the Savior. When you do, He will not ask how much money you gave or what great things you did for your church. You see, He does not care about the amount you give as long as you trust Him with all that you have. He does not need your money, but He longs to have your heart.
I saw it on an empty shelf in a store. The merchandise that inhabited that shelf was sold out. In its place was a sign that said, “ more to come”. This was a promise that the empty shelf was only a temporary condition. There was more to come, it would be full again.
“More to come” that is an assurance that the emptiness will not last. This is nice if you are looking for a book in a bookstore. But what happens if it is your life that suddenly has the gaping empty spot? Where is the promise of “more to come” when death takes a loved one. Where is the hope of “more to come” when a crazy disease steals your future? Where is the desire for “more to come” when divorce invades your marriage. Life events like these often leave us feeling empty and thinking that there cannot possibility be any “ more to come.”
However in Jeremiah 29:11, God says “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Now, can you hear the laughter of children and the birds singing? That is God’s assurance that life will go on. Take a deep breath, do you feel the air rushing into your lungs? That means you’re still alive. If you’re still alive, then take the breath that is in your lungs as God’s promise that there is “ more to come”.
Please understand,God never promised His children that every day would be good. But if we trust Him, we will find that everyday God is good. As a child of God, we have only seen the beginning. We don’t know how we will end up. Our eyes cannot see, our ears cannot hear and our hearts cannot understand the fullness that God has for His children. We know that faith is the essence of things hoped for and the certainty of things not seen. It is our faith in Jesus that fills our empty hearts and guarantees us that there is “ More to Come”.
He walked into the shop early on a Monday morning. With my usual greeting I asked him, “ how are you doing today?” His answer was “ I don’t know yet.” My pastor senses were triggered, telling me that he had some problems on his mind. I said, “ Jesus loves you, so everything is going to be alright.” His face lit up and he said, “ Brother, you know you are right, and I really needed to be reminded of that this morning.”
His name was Harry and he and I immediately became friends. We are about the same age and have a lot in common. Both of us love Jesus, our families and America. In our conversation, we talked about the craziness in the world today. We are both concerned about all the riots and the hysteria over the corona virus. This causes us both to worry about the world that our grandchildren will inherit. Thankfully, we both know that Jesus is in control.
Oh, by the way Harry’s skin is dark and my skin is light. But our different skin color does not matter to us. We became friends because of all we have in common. It is our common prayer that America would return to the God of our salvation and be healed.
In this world we live in, racism is a commodity of small minded and manipulative people. Many politicians, most of the news media and some so called preachers, exist only for the money they make by causing heartache and division. These evil and wicked people thrive most when good people suffer. They hate it when good men like Harry and I ignore our differences and come together over the things we have in common.
Hey, let’s turn this world around. Just turn off the news. Those talking heads on television will only tear us apart. Love God with all your heart and your world will be changed. Love your neighbor as you love yourself and you might change their world. Understand this, you cannot be reconciled with your fellow man until you are reconciled with God. I am paraphrasing Romans 10:12-13 when I say; “ There is no difference between Black and White, because the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13
Let us all call on the name of the Lord and let the reconciliation begin.
The Apostle Paul was the greatest preacher ever. His obedience and sacrificial service to Jesus are something that we should all imitate. There is no doubt that when he was beheaded for his Savior the next thing, he heard was his Heavenly Father saying, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”
Yes, Paul was a great man of God. And yet he suffered from what he called a thorn in the flesh.” What was this “thorn in the flesh”? No one knows. It could have been an illness, a deformity, blindness, or anything that affected his physical body.
There is one thing that I have never heard anyone else suggest. Maybe Paul’s thorn in the flesh was an addiction. Maybe he was addicted to alcohol or drugs or food or even porn. Some people would say; “Paul could not have had an addiction because he was a Godly man.” Yes, he was a Godly man but he was not a perfect man, He had faults and his faults made him feel like he was ” the chief of sinners”. God does not use perfect people; He uses broken people. Especially those with thorns in their flesh.
The Bible does not answer every question, and that is a good thing. It is a fact that all Christians struggle with sin, even the Godliest among us. All of us have a thorn in the flesh of some kind. We do not know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. But we do know that God’s grace was sufficient for Paul and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
One of the blessings of the Bible not giving us all the answers is this; not knowing what Paul suffered, we can identify with him in our suffering. When we feel wretched and wonder who will deliver us from this body of death, we too can thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord. Because God’s grace was sufficient for Paul’s thorn in the flesh and it is still sufficient for yours.
My daddy is going to kill me! Sixteen years old and he has only had his driver’s license for a month. Driving his daddy’s truck he looks down to change the radio station and does not see the car in front of him slowing down to make a turn. Thankfully no one is hurt, but two vehicles are damaged.
Many teenagers have heard a list of “do nots” from their parents. Don’t hang out with people who do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, don’t look at your phone while driving, and many other do nots. Good parents always give their teenagers freedom with boundaries. However, most young people will mess up sometimes. And like the distracted driver who wrecked his parent’s truck they might think, “ my daddy is going to kill me.”
Of course there will be consequences for the mistakes that have been made. But when the parents arrive on the scene the first thing they do is grab the child and hug him tightly. Mamas and daddies love their children unconditionally and nothing will change that. The most important thing right now is that their baby is safe.
I am a child of God. He is my Father in Heaven. In Christ I am free, but there are boundaries that I should not cross. And yet I often do. This is sin. There are consequences for sin. So I stand heartbroken before God, knowing that I deserve the wages of sin. But a broken and contrite heart my Father will not despise. Because of His unconditional love for me, I am safe in the arms of God.
Borrowing a thought from Job 13:15-16 I say, God might kill me, but I have no other hope. This is what will save me. I am not Godless nor am I Fatherless. I am made righteous by the Blood of Jesus and saved by the Grace of God. He is my Father and He loves me.
This may seem strange to some of you, but I am a superhero fan. Especially Superman and Batman. It is entertaining and sometimes inspiring to see these noble characters with their courage and conviction rushing in to defeat the evil villains. Often as I listen to the news and hear of the evil in this world, I wish there really was a Superman who could fly in and crush the bad guys. When I hear of sickness and diseases in the world, I wish that a Bruce Wayne would invent the cure. Then Batman would deliver the antidote to the afflicted while riding on the wings of the wind.
Now I know that these superheroes are simple fictional characters. Superman will never save the day and Batman will never solve any riddles. However, I can see how most superheroes may have been inspired by Biblical stories. Throughout the Bible we read of many common men who were raised up by God to accomplish miraculous feats. For instance, think of Moses who divided waters and called down fire as he delivered his people to the promised land. Then with one of the greatest story endings of all time, he walks up to a mountain top to die in the presence of God.
When I watch a Super Hero movie the special effects are awesome, but they cannot match the powers of my God. In 2 Samuel 22, I read that when God’s children are attacked by His enemies the anger of God is stirred. Then the earth shakes and the foundations of Heaven tremble. His voice thunders from heaven and the lightning bolts fly like arrows from His bow. Look and you will see the clouds billowing out behind Him like a cloak of righteousness as he comes Riding on the Wings of the Wind.
As I continue to read this chapter, I find that God can still use common men in uncommon ways. When we place our feet on the Rock of His salvation, His strength and power will be ours. He will teach us how to be spiritual warriors and our prayers will fly like arrows from a bow. The Blood of Jesus will be the shield of our salvation. The Word of our Testimony will be the destruction of our enemy. Then one day this Greatest Story ever told will come to an end. The theme music of our Savior will sound like a trumpet. The sky will crack open and we will rise to meet The Lord while Riding on the Wings of the Wind.
It had been a good trip. Thousands of men had gathered on the Mall in Washington DC for a Promise Keepers rally. The glory of God had invaded the place. Great sermons and music had blessed all our hearts. Now riding on a chartered bus we were on our way home.
The trip home was going pretty good until somebody discovered that the bus had a PA system. Now there is something about a microphone that makes some men think they have something important to say. So one by one various men grabbed the microphone to “ share” their testimony. This was all good, I guess. But I tuned it out, because all I wanted to do was to ride in silence, look out the window and think about God’s great love.
We were riding through Virginia. The highway we were on gave us a great view of the Shenandoah Valley. Surrounded by hills and mountains this green valley stretches for miles. It is one of the most beautiful views in America. Never having seen it before, I was fascinated by the beauty of God’s handiwork. It was at this time that the microphone holder said, “ I want everyone to bow your head and close your eyes while I pray!” I said to myself “ I don’t think so you big dummy.”
It seems to me that men are always getting in God’s way. When The Father wants to show us great things, somebody wants us to close our eyes in prayer. When God wants to whisper in our ear, somebody wants to shout a sermon at us. And when the Lord wants us to be still and know that He is God, a lot of churches want to fill our lives with things to do.
Yes, it is true. We need to pray with each other, and we need to spend time encouraging each other. It is important to listen when people talk about what God is doing. It is also true that we need the church and the local church needs us. But we must never forget that even Jesus needed time to rest and be alone with His Father.
In His wisdom God has given us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts full of desire. So with your ears, listen to His still small voice. With your eyes, look for the beauty of His Holiness and with your heart, yearn for the peace that is beyond your understanding. The sweetest communion with God is found in the solitude of your soul. So learn to tune out the noise of the world and listen to the whisper of His voice.
The Apostle Paul was a simple man. To the Corinthians he said that he had decided that he would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified. He came to them in weakness, timid and trembling. His message and preaching was very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches he relied only on the Holy Spirit.
Paul was not an attractive man; he did not draw crowds because he looked good . When he spoke he was blunt and to the point so people did not gather around him for his charismatic character. It is thought that he may have had a physical deformity, so his appearance may have caused people to avoid him.
He was not a big shot preacher. If he were here today he probably would not be invited to speak at the annual preaching conference nor would he be appearing at the denominational convention. And yet this simple man, while he was in chains, had the opportunity to stand before kings and governors and preach Christ and Him crucified.
It is true, Paul did not have a church growth plan, but everywhere He went strong churches grew. He did not have a disciple making plan, but his disciples took the Gospel into all the world. He was not a dynamic preacher but his preaching is still impacting the world today.
Paul was an intelligent and highly educated man, but for him it was the foolishness of the cross and not the wisdom of man that was important. He gladly poured out His life for the Gospel and counted it a privilege to suffer for the Savior.
This is my challenge to all of you. I hope you understand that the just shall live by faith. You must never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The scandal of the Cross is our only hope of eternal life.
To the preacher who wishes to please God I say this; put away the how to preach books. Throw away that resume that you planned to send to the bigger church. Stand wherever you are and preach with the power of the Holy Spirit. Understand this, your purpose and goal is to take the Gospel into all the world and it is not human wisdom but the power of God that will save the souls of men.
She had lived on this earth for almost a hundred years, her body was worn out and tired. Her fingers would no longer play the piano and her voice was to weak to sing. Now the Savior she served was ready to receive her unto Himself. Family and friends gathered around her bed to say goodby. Her last words could barely be heard on earth, but they rang loud in Heaven. With a soft but sure voice she said, “ In Jesus’ name amen.” Then she closed her eyes and went to the place that had been prepared for her.
I have often thought about this dear old saint and her last words. What were her thoughts?What was she seeing and who was she speaking to as she said, “ In Jesus’ name amen?” Could it be that the soul of this sweet lady was seeing the gates of Heaven. Maybe a guardian stood there and asked why should you be allowed into Heaven. And her answer was, “I am a child of the King. I stand here with the the authority of Jesus Christ commanding you to open the gate so I may go to the place He has prepared for me.” So let it be.
In John 16, Jesus said, “ Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” I am afraid that many people have misunderstood those words. A lot of people think that if they add, “ in Jesus’ name” to the end of their prayer, then God will have to answer. But that is not true. What our Lord meant was if you are a child of God and washed in the blood of the Savior, then you represent the authority of Jesus. With the authority of Jesus in you, God recognizes your right to have your prayer answered. Because of that when you say “Amen”, your Father in Heaven will say “So let it be”.
Now I do not intend to tell you what to say when you pray. That would be pharisaical. The fact is when it comes to prayer, words are not important. The important thing is who you are and who you serve. Are you washed in the blood of Lamb? Are you a child of our Father in Heaven? Do you serve Jesus Christ, the King of Kings? If so, with confidence your last words on earth can be, “in the Name of Jesus, amen.” And Jesus will answer, “ welcome My child, come see the place I have prepared for you.” So let it be.